Santa Barbara Overview

The downtown area runs the length of State Street. Chock-full of local landmarks, downtown offers plenty for history buffs: dozens of the City's oldest adobe dwellings; the site of the original Presidio or fort, the picturesque El Paseo complex which includes the de la Guerra adobes, the Mission, the Courthouse, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and dozens of Victorian era homes built by Santa Barbara's leading citizens during the late 19th-century. Also downtown, some of the finest restaurants, outdoor cafes, theatres, antique shops and cinemas. Excellent shopping is to be had at the many specialty stores along lower State. The beach is located just a short distance from downtown Santa Barbara. An electric shuttle runs between downtown and the focal point of the waterfront, which is Stearns Wharf. Shops and restaurants line the Wharf, including the Harbor Restaurant, originally opened by Ronald Coleman in 1941, and at one point purchased by another movie star, James Cagney. At the west end of the waterfront is the Harbor, the center of the City's commercial fishing industry and a rendezvous point for the yachting crowd. Many hotels line Cabrillo, all boasting a superb Santa Barbara ocean view. Chase Palm Park, which runs the length of the waterfront, is the place to go for a stroll, to see the arts and crafts displays every Sunday, and to watch some of the world's finest volleyball players on East Beach. The Cabrillo Arts Center, the Bird Refuge and the Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens, are all located in this vicinity.

Montecito

Montecito means "little mountains, little forest" -- an apt name for this area of winding, tree-shaded lanes reminiscent of the English countryside. The area has long been known for the style and elegance of its residences, both historic and contemporary. Many of Montecito's most impressive estates, built at the turn of the century, were modeled after the sumptuous homes of England, France, Spain and Italy. Landmark hotels in this area include the Montecito Inn, built in 1927 by Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle; the San Ysidro Ranch, where the guest register lists such names as Jean Harlow, Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh, Winston Churchill and Mr. & Mrs. John F. Kennedy; and the Santa Barbara Biltmore, with its spectacular ocean vistas, located right at the beach, just a short walk from the shopping opportunities of the "Lower Village" on Coast Village Road. Along Coast Village Road you'll find fine dining, elegant shops and a superb nursery, and a weekly Farmer's Market, all of which attracts both locals and tourists to this area. The electric shuttle runs between the Biltmore Hotel at the beach and this shopping street. The "Upper Village" is located at the intersection of East Valley Road and San Ysidro Road, offering more shops. This is a great place to celebrity watch!

Summerland

Summerland is today a small, charming beach town, just to the south of Santa Barbara, but it has an unusual history. At the turn of the Century it was referred to as "Spooksville." The town was founded by Henry L. Williams, a rancher whose interest in Spiritualism led him to create a community where his fellow spiritualists could pursue their beliefs (including the idea that the living can communicate with the dead through a medium). Every summer, the spiritualists held a convention in Summerland. Eventually lots were sold to conventioneers for as little as $25. A few of these lucky early settlers, upon digging for water, hit oil instead. In short order there was a full-scale oil boom. Wildcatters invaded the town and started the first off-shore drilling operations from wharves built over the ocean. At one point a group of outraged Santa Barbarans, led by a few prominent citizens, formed a vigilante committee and during a midnight raid, tore down an unsightly derrick on Miramar Beach. Today, Summerland is more peaceful, enjoying wonderful ocean views from almost every home.

Carpinteria

Our ocean side community of Carpinteria offers a small-town feel, but with spectacular mountain views, world-class beaches, and a thriving local economy.

Carpinteria Beach, one of the most beautiful anywhere, is known for its gentle waves and soft white sand, and Rincon Point is arguably one of the best surfing places in the world.

But Carpinteria is not just for surfers and sun-loving beach goers. There is so much to do here, with more than 60 restaurants, bike and hiking paths, camp grounds, and by one count more than 100 activities!

One of the most interesting places to visit is the Seal Preserve, with 100 adult seals who give birth to their cubs at the Rookery. The tide pools delight young and old alike with their fascinating starfish, anemones, crabs, snails, and sea urchins. For bird-watchers, there is the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve, a relatively unspoiled wetland, sheltering rare and endangered plants and birds. Carpinteria is famous for the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, which last July hosted Prince William and Princess Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at a charity polo event.

Nestled between the foothills and the Pacific Ocean, Carpinteria has the ideal climate for Cymbidium orchids, and is the biggest producer in the country. With agriculture as the main local industry, avocadoes are featured prominently at the very lively annual Carpinteria Avocado Festival. During the first weekend of October, roughly 80,000 attend the two-day festival to sample every avocado recipe imaginable.

The Carpinteria Valley Historical Society & Museum showcases the three distinct cultures in Carpinteria's long history - Chumash, Spanish and American. Today, the diverse population numbers about 13,000 residents, and includes a sprinkling of celebrities who have chosen to call Carpinteria home.

By all accounts, Carpinteria is an outstanding place to live, work, and play.

Hope Ranch

A network of elegant, palm-lined lanes and rich landscaping, Hope Ranch is anything but a "ranch." Considered one of the most prestigious and gracious locales in the country, many of the grand estates here were designed by the leading architects of the turn of the century. The magnificent date palms long Marina and Las Palmas Drives are over 80 years old, and tower as high as 60 feet. There are horse riding trails, and a private beach area for residents.

Goleta / Isla Vista

The University of California at Santa Barbara, the fourth largest in the UC system, is not actually located in Santa Barbara itself, but in a community a short drive north, in Santa Barbara's neighbor, Goleta. Goleta has just achieved its own cityhood. UCSB is a small city in itself, and most of the students live in the nextdoor community of Isla Vista. Spread out over 800 acres overlooking the ocean, the University is the single largest employer in Santa Barbara county. Goleta is also home to many of the electronics and research and development firms that flourish in the county. Goleta Beach has a salt marsh which is a good place to spot many species of ocean and beach birds, and a Monarch Butterfly preserve. The Witness Tree, located at 5555 Hollister Ave, is a historic 300 year old sycamore tree marking one of Santa Barbara's earliest homesteads.

Beach Properties

Fine Pacific Ocean beaches course their way down the coastline from Santa Barbara to Ventura. The homes range from modest weekenders, to magnificent ocean front estates and gated private beach communities, all with a ringside seat to the breathtaking ocean and island vistas and dazzling sunsets.

Rincon Beach

This superb surfing beach is on the southern edge of Carpinteria, right on the very edge of Santa Barbara County and Ventura, and is rated as one of the top five surfing spots in the world.

Ventura

One of the oldest cities in California, Ventura is fortunate to be influenced by Spanish, Mexican, Chinese, Chumash and American cultures. Built around the Mission, the city then grew large based on the the richness of the land. To say that there are numerous beaches is somewhat confusing. There is really just one long gorgeous stretch of sand that people have subdivided into beaches. But don't make the mistake of thinking Ventura is just another pretty beach town. The arts are alive and well and draw quite a crowd. There are many points of interest, here are just a few the visitor should not miss: A.J. Comstock Museum, set in Mission Park; Albinger Archeological Museum, a fun museum that features the five major cultures found in Ventura - Chumash, Spanish, Chinese, American and Mexican; Mission San Buenaventura, the last mission built by Padre Junipero Serra; Channel Islands Visitor's Center, a wonderful place to experience the natural history and beauty of the Channel Islands; Museum of History and Art, something for everyone; Olivas Adobe, a wonderful example of Spanish architecture; Ortega Adobe, how the common folk lived; Ventura Harbor Village and Marina, a community filled with shops, boats, restaurants and miles of white sand beaches; the Ventura Pier, a focal point for waterfront fun and Ventura City Hall.